WASHINGTON — U.S. President George W. Bush yesterday reaffirmed his administration’s doctrine of pre-emptive military action against terrorist organizations and those states that support them, calling the war on terrorism a “new kind of war” (see GSN, Oct. 9).
“In this new kind of war, America is following a new strategy. We are not waiting for further attacks. We are striking our enemies before they can strike us again,” Bush said during a California speech with Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger at his side. “Wars are won on the offensive, and America and our friends are staying on the offensive. We’re rolling back the terrorist threat — not on the fringes of its influence, but at the heart of its power,” he said.
During his speech, Bush cited the threat posed by former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein as one that required such pre-emptive action.
“I acted because I was not about to leave the security of the American people in the hands of a madman. I was not about to stand by and wait and trust in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein,” Bush said.
As evidence of that threat, Bush noted the progress made so far in the search for alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Since the end of Hussein’s regime, U.S. forces in Iraq “have found evidence of a clandestine network of biological laboratories, advanced design work on prohibited longer-range missiles and an elaborate campaign to hide illegal programs,” Bush said (see related GSN story, today).
“It is undeniable that Saddam Hussein was a deceiver and a danger. The Security Council was right to demand that Saddam Hussein disarm, and America was right to enforce that demand,” Bush said.
Bush also seemed to criticize those who opposed the war against Iraq, noting Hussein’s past use of chemical weapons against the Iraqi population and the grotesque human rights violations of his regime.
“There is only one decent and humane reaction to the fall of Saddam Hussein — good riddance,” he said.
Last week, Bush made similar remarks on Operation Iraqi Freedom during a speech at the 2003 Republican National Committee presidential gala in Washington as part of White House efforts to counter criticism of the war and of efforts to rebuild Iraq. Over the past two weeks, similar speeches have also been given by a number of senior Bush administration officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.
In his remarks yesterday, Bush linked the U.S. military successes in Iraq and in Afghanistan to progress in the greater war on terrorism. He also warned, however, that terrorist groups still threaten the United States.
“America must never forget the lessons of September the 11th. America cannot retreat from our responsibilities and hope for the best,” Bush said. “Our security will not be gained by timid measures. Our security requires constant vigilance and decisive action. I believe America has only one option — we will fight this war against terror until it is won,” he said.